Tyree Love jumped from group home to group home growing up in the foster care system in Los Angeles, California after being taken from his mother at just two years old. Through the years, he spent time in seven group homes and two foster homes before being emancipated by the courts once he turned 18. After graduating from high school in 1999, he completed a one year program at Modern Technology College and became certified X-Ray Tech Medical Assistant, working in pediatric orthopedics and internal medicine.
At the age of 19, he became a father and decided that joining the Navy would allow him to support his newborn son. On August 28, 2001, Tyree arrived for boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois, ready for new experiences and challenges and to take responsibility for his situation. Two weeks into boot camp was September 11, 2001. Just a week and half later, he received further devastating news: his 7-month old son had passed away. He was given three days to go home, memorialize his son and return to boot camp because America would soon be going to war.
Upon his return to boot camp, he felt lost. He shared that “it was a weird transition because my whole game plan was for my son, that’s why I joined. It had nothing to do with wanting to go. When I lost him, I kind of lost why I wanted to be there.” He got through this difficult period and continued through the rigorous training, pushing through the obstacles that weighed heavily on him. “I started to take value in what I could do and what I could get out of this now, for myself,” said Tyree. He went on to serve in the Navy for nearly four years, including serving in one of the longest Navy deployments in modern history, from July 2002-June 2003 aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Tyree left the military in September 2005, and the following summer he returned to school at El Camino City College. While at El Camino, he joined the football team, but eventually had to leave school to take a full-time job as a security guard at Guardsmark Security. At the time, the GI Bill did not cover both schooling and offer a living wage, so he had to make the decision to leave school in order to earn an income. Tyree shared, “I left school and I remember telling myself, ‘this is not what I want to do, this is not who I want to be, this is not me’ and I made a goal to create a plan to eventually get back in school and make my dreams happen.”
Love’s leadership at Guardsmark was unmistakable from the start. Fairly quickly, he was promoted to shift supervisor for a Chevron Refinery in El Segundo. He stayed for five years, during which he was recognized with many leadership awards, including a very prestigious award in the security community in 2009. In 2011, he was told of changes to the GI Bill under President Barack Obama that now offered a housing stipend in addition to paying for school and providing a livable wage. A short while later, he secured housing through an organization called VASH in LA County, and he was able to return to school at Long Beach City College. In 2014, he graduated with an Associate in Arts degree in Communications before transferring to Cal State Long Beach to earn his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications with a minor in Journalism in the spring of 2016.
With a goal of working for a professional sports team, he was told about Up2Us Sports and its Operation Coach program by his college advisor. Tyree’s advisor said to him, “this is perfect for you, it may not be directly where you want to go but I think this will help build that block for you.” He agreed and within a short time he applied and began working at California Educational Centers (CEC) as both a basketball coach and in a management position.
Love credits the military for helping him become more accountable and responsible as a person, but also as a leader. It’s been a long road, but he now has a home of his own and a job he cares deeply for. He hopes that he can translate the same work ethic he showed throughout his time in the military to his new role at California Educational Centers, while also utilizing his passion for giving back to the community through basketball as a coach and mentor with Up2Us Sports’ Operation Coach program.
Tyree Love began his one-year service term at California Educational Centers through Up2Us Sports’ Operation Coach Program in August 2016. His position is generously funded by CaliforniaVolunteers.